Saturday, March 29, 2014

I love you, Dad.

My wife and I were at the famous "Little Dooey Restaurant," in Starkville, MS, home of Mississippi State University, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw two men walk towards the drink refill station, just around the corner from us, but within earshot.

Then I heard those words, "I love you, Dad."  Their conversation seemed to indicate one of them lived in Starkville, and the other was visiting him, probably coinciding with a baseball game or some other university event.

I began thinking, I have never said those four words, "I love you, Dad."

You see, my father had died in an airplane crash when I was an infant, so I never saw his relationship to his father or heard it express itself in words.And he was never a present reality for me to speak to.  And I don't remember even meeting my grandparents on my father's side, but I think my older brother tried to seek them out one time.  They were as dead to me as my father was, for all practical purposes.

This was a generational curse, as well, because my own children would never see or hear me say, "I love you, Dad," to my father, so their experience would be just as void of that generation-linking pattern as mine was.  And unless they had some outside influence, they would not know how to tell me that same sentence.

I am a member of a church that has many fatherless families.  Those children will also lack the personal experience of hearing and learning to say, "I love you, Dad."

Perhaps this is why my image of my heavenly father is so vague.  Without having experiences with an earthly father that would teach me about a father-son bond, what does "Our father who art in heaven" mean to me? Merely an abstraction, words without meaning, words without feelings. Words without touch.

How can pastors minister to sons of fatherless families?  How can they teach them about a heavenly father without bringing up images of the never-present father, the deadbeat dad?

How can these fatherless sons identify with the church whose image is portrayed as the bride of a husband, when they have not seen an earthly family where the father loves the mother and the mother submits to and respects her husband?

God, we need help!